chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.
January 01, 2019

Chair's Column

Alexandria Hien McCombs, Humana, Irving, TX

As we welcome a new year, we reflect upon last year’s notable events, successes, and disappointments and generate an aspirational list of resolutions for 2019. Aspirational is the key word. Research shows that most New Year’s resolutions fail by February. Typical reasons include: 1) the absence of a SMART (specific, measureable, attainable, relevant, and timely) goal, 2) discouragement leading to inconsistent execution and unwillingness to change, and 3) lack of social support. As we formulate our resolutions—or SMART goals—for 2019, here are three guiding principles to customize.

Listen. Proactive listening is a skill that can be sharpened. In the professional setting, the quality of our listening can use some improvement. Whether participating in a meeting in person or remotely, we have all been guilty of mentally drifting to other priorities outside the scope of the meeting agenda. During telephonic meetings, the declaration of “I’m sorry; I was on mute,” becomes a euphemism for “I was momentarily thinking of something else when you called on me.” We can imagine the increased productivity and depth of the conversations during those business meetings if everyone is actively listening and engaging. On a personal level, we need to put down our handheld devices and have a conversation with our loved ones. The latest newsflash, Facebook posting, Tweet, Instagram, etc. will live on in digital perpetuity, but the personal interaction with our loved ones is time-sensitive.                       

Learn. Be curious. Whether it’s a new professional skill, development or certification, foreign language, travel destination, sport, or hobby, make a SMART plan to fulfill that particular learning journey. The poignant scene in the 2009 Disney movie, “Up”, focused on the money jar that Carl and Ellie Fredrickson funded as newlyweds for their long-awaited adventure to Paradise Falls. Intervening events such as major car and home repairs and hospital bills forced them to break the jar throughout their lifetime. When Carl surprised Ellie with plane tickets years later in their 70’s, Ellie collapsed from illness and became hospitalized. She never made it to Paradise Falls with Carl. There will always be unexpected circumstances that pose challenges to our learning journeys. The point is to commit to those SMART plans. 

Connect. Our ability to connect with co-workers, friends, and family members calls on the tribal need for belonging in early humans. It was essential for survival then and is essential for well-being today. When I started to run at the age of 40, my running buddy was my accountability partner and chief motivator. We trained together twice a week, agonized over hill training, and paced each other in competitive races. He became a loyal friend who understood my good and bad days and made no judgment. For any goal that we set, the designation of an accountability partner or simply another listener can provide the motivation and emotional support necessary to keep us honest. Within the American Bar Association Health Law Section, I am deeply grateful for the community of servant leaders and friends who make me a better leader, lawyer, and person. Stay connected with us at @abahealthlaw.